You are currently viewing our desktop site, do you want to download our app instead?
Moneyweb Android App Moneyweb iOS App Moneyweb Mobile Web App
Join our mailing list to receive top business news every weekday morning.

Sona reveals paid internships are the key

The allocation of R57 billion for free higher education and training will have a massive impact on long-term economic development.
An increase in youth employment will mean greater spending power and less dependence on social grants, the writer says. Picture: Shutterstock

South Africa’s youth have a lot to celebrate following the recent State of the Nation Address (Sona) and budget speech.

In his maiden Sona, President Cyril Ramaphosa repeatedly emphasised that job creation would be at the centre of the 2018 national agenda. Former finance minister Malusi Gigaba confirmed that government would be contributing R57 billion to fund free higher education. 

This comes as at a time when more than 55% of South Africans are living in poverty and the unemployment rate, although slightly lower, is sitting at 26.7%.

“Our most grave and most pressing challenge is youth unemployment. It is therefore a matter of great urgency that we draw young people in far greater numbers in productive economic activity,” Ramaphosa said.

The president promised “practical solutions and initiatives that will be implemented immediately” and committed to create a million such internships in the next three years, which would allow unemployed youth the opportunity to work.

The strong focus on job creation and development for the youth in both policy and budgetary respects is a welcome development.

It is promising to see that Ramaphosa understands the importance – both individually and on a national economic level – of youth job creation. An increase in youth employment means increased spending power, less dependence on social grants, less motivation to turn to crime and an overall improvement of the socio-economic environment for all citizens. 

One such way the government can create employment en masse for young people is through increased internship funding.

Internships are critical when creating employment opportunities for marginalised youth. The oversupply of labour often makes it difficult for inexperienced youth to get a foot in the door.

With employers often opting for experienced candidates over non-experienced graduates, internship funding will incentivise companies to take on more graduates as interns, thus being more inclusive of individuals who may otherwise have been disregarded. 

Once candidates have a year’s experience under their belts, they are far more employable. Young people who have participated and completed an internship programme become more confident, capable and driven to improve themselves in the context of work.

SMMEs in particular stand to gain much when given access to internship funding. The subsidy enables them to overcome the hurdle of growing their organisation’s personnel numbers, allowing the business to grow and offer more youths an employment opportunity.

We are thrilled to see that Ramaphosa has prioritised youth employment initiatives and has allocated significant funding to actualise this goal. While sustainable change is a process, we work with the youth on a daily basis and experience first-hand the despair and desperation faced by our young people. South African youth are a remarkable generation; they are ambitious, talented, and determined, but they need our support. They are desperate for an opportunity to live up to their potential and make a contribution to society.  

The allocation of R57 billion for free higher education and training will significantly benefit long-term economic development.

Jake Willis is CEO of Lulaway youth employment agency.


Sort by:
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Top voted

You must be signed in to comment.


We could not agree more but need to gain access to such funding for our Education-to-Employment programme that recruits youth from some of South Africa’s poorest communities and provides a developmental pipeline that results in technical graduates.

The success of the Go for Gold 4 phased programme is largely due to Phase 2, an experiential and informal internship at one of our 24 partner companies. Students join Phase 2 in their post matric year and gain valuable exposure to techicnical professions within the South African built environment, before choosing their course of study for the following year, Phase 3 – tertiary studies.

Our partners in turn enjoy fulfilling their transformational objectives while enjoying better bursary investment for youth who are well-informed about their course of study. In addition, Go for Gold strengthens tertiary accademic performance by providing 2 years Maths and Science tuition in Phase 1 (Grades 11 & 12) and bridging classes in Maths and Science and work readiness training in Phase 2.

We were also invited to present on the efficacy of our experiencial year prior to tertiary studies at the African Union and NEPAD’s “Africa Talks Jobs” conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last year.

The internship year is vital for the youth of South Africa. They have little to no exposure to career information within the schooling environment and although not their fault, are often not accademically prepared or commonly have misconceptions about particular tertiary studies, which often leads to the high dropout rate.

South Africa does not have time to waste with the growing youth unemployment rate. The Go for Gold model should be replicated in all industries requiring various levels of talented human capital. Partnerships Go for Gold has with industry and educational partners leads to companies engaging with youth while still in school and often inspires youth who otherwise would not have no hope at all.

For more information, see

Karen Rademeyer

Wrong again, only a workforce is created, the onus still on the creation of an employment market, “internship funding” will again just become another golden goose for SMMEs BEE-carder profits.

Ramaphosa with his populist plans, try to fix a problem by funding just another soon to be corrupt scheme, rather than to address the cause(ANC denial).

1 000 000 internships in tree years,…in which economy, or maybe is the next step after the expropriation of land is the “expropriation of jobs” from the last view who is still able to fund your elaborate schemes.

To ANCyril, fix the cause, you can either be the captain of Titanic (May-day, ice berg , dead ahead), or Niel Armstrong on Apollo.(one step for man, a giant leap for man kind)…History will be the judge.

End of comments.





Follow us:

Search Articles:Advanced Search
Click a Company: